National Agricultural Literacy Curriculum Matrix
Search Lesson Plans & Companion Resources
Find Your Future Career (Grades 9-12)
9 - 12
Two 45-minute sessions
Students will discover the variety of agricultural careers available and consider their future career paths in terms of economics, interests, and suitability to their personal talents and characteristics.
- Living Science Career Cards
- Emerging Agricultural Technologies
- Career Activity Scenario
- 7 large resealable bags that contain equipment as listed on Living Science Careers Equipment Kits List*
- 4, 15-foot pieces of yarn; each a different color; ends tied together*
- 4 signs printed on card stock (approximately 8 1/2" x 5 1/2"); labeled PLANT, SOIL, WATER, ANIMAL*
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation:
- Career Matching activity sheet, 1 per student
- Agricultural Career Cluster Investigation activity sheet, 1 per student (optional)
*These items are included in the Living Science Careers Equipment Bags available from agclassroomstore.com.
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
career: an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
- Ask your students the following questions:
- "What do you see yourself doing in the future?"
- "What are possible careers?"
- "How much do you want to earn?"
- "How much training or school do you think you will need to achieve your career goals?"
- Ask students to list some possible careers within the agriculture industry. Make a list on the board. If needed, refer to the What is Agriculture? poster to help them visualize what agriculture is. Most likely, students will list very traditional careers in agriculture such as a crop farmer or cattle rancher. Point out to students that there are many, many careers in the agriculture industry and they will be learning about some of them.
Obtain the Living Science Career Cards (see Materials). Laminate the cards, punch a hole in the upper left corner, and organize them into 14 groups as suggested below. Not all the cards will be used in this activity. Use small book rings to keep the following groups together:
Group 1: Soil Scientist, Forester
Group 2: Hydrologist, Renewable Energy Specialist
Group 3: Virologist, Plant Geneticist, Fisheries Scientist
Group 4: Biotechnologist, Environmental Scientist
Group 5: Toxicologist, Forest Engineer, Food Safety Specialist
Group 6: Entomologist, Wildlife Biologist
Group 7: Food Process Engineer, Nematologist
Group 8: Weed Scientist, Plant Pathologist
Group 9: Plant Physiologist, Aquaculturist
Group 10: Remote Sensing Specialist, Horticulturist, Range Manager
Group 11: Food Scientist, Turf Scientist
Group 12: Nutritionist/Dietitian, Florist, Conservation Biologist
Group 13: Animal Nutritionist, Wood Scientist
Group 14: Veterinarian, Agronomist
Activity 1: Agricultural Career Scenario
- Use a concept web to define agriculture and natural resources with your students.
- Ask students to create a list of agricultural and/or natural resource careers on the board or add them to the previously created concept webs.
- Next, add the careers cited on the career cards. These careers are integral to productive agriculture and well-maintained natural resources, yet most students will not be familiar with the job titles.
- Divide the class into 14 groups; give each a set of the ringed career cards. Ask the students to take five minutes to read the cards they have received and familiarize themselves with the careers, what roles they play in the agricultural community, and what education is necessary for each profession. The education required for each career is included on the cards, and the explanations emphasize that students should study science, math, and English in high school in order to prepare themselves for similar subjects at the university level. Remind students that there will be entry- and mid-level occupations that support the highly skilled occupations.
- Read the “Career Activity Scenario” sheet and ask students to raise their hands if they think they know the career that correctly fills the blank. After each profession is answered correctly ask, “What other cards are in your group? What courses do they need to complete to get their degrees?”
- Share with students the “Emerging Agricultural Technologies” handout.
Activity 2: Where do I stand? What tools do I use?
- Ask students to remove the Living Science Career Cards from their rings and distribute them so that each student has one. If there are not enough cards, you may choose to print additional cards from https://www.agriculture.purdue.edu/USDA/careers/index.html, or students may share.
- Place the seven equipment bags around the classroom. Arrange the four pieces of yarn on the floor as intersecting circles (similar to a Venn diagram). Place one sign (PLANT, SOIL, WATER, and ANIMAL) in the center of each of the circles.
- Ask the students to think about the tools and equipment they would need to perform the jobs as described on their assigned career cards.
- Instruct students to find the bags that contain the equipment most likely to be used in their careers. Note: several students will share each bag.
- Once students have correctly identified their equipment bags, ask students to stand on the circle that indicates the resource(s) with which they would most likely work. For example, a student holding the Veterinarian Card would stand in the ANIMAL circle. However, a student holding the Aquaculturist Card may stand in the intersection of the PLANT, ANIMAL, and WATER circles.
- Ask each student to explain his or her career’s role in interacting with the circles identified above. Also ask students to explain how these careers might interact with each other.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
- Use the Career Matching activity sheet to check student understanding. Note: You may wish to divide these careers among students.
3 4 16 11 13 9 21 7 6 5 28 25 1 15 20 29 19 32 23 8 10 18 31 30 27 17 2 24 12 14 22 26
- Using the National FFA Ag Explorer, ask students to select a career cluster and then complete the Agricultural Career Cluster Investigation activity sheet.
- After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
- There are many careers in agriculture that take place both on and off the farm.
- Agricultural careers can be related to plants, soil, animals, water, or any mixture of these 4 categories.
- Careers in all areas of agriculture require varying levels of education and skill.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Create your own “Career Activity Scenario” using the remaining Living Science Career Cards
Using the FFA Career Explorer, ask students to select a career cluster and then complete the "Agricultural Career Cluster Investigation" activity sheet. https://www.ffa.org/resources/career-explorer
Ask the students to brainstorm other agricultural careers that have been left out of the activity. Popular ones include mid-level jobs in processing, marketing, and distribution. Ask each student to create their own agricultural or natural resource career card.
Suggested Companion Resources
- Careers in Agriculture (Book)
- Living Science Careers Equipment Bags (Kit)
- Living Science Career Cards (posters or mini-posters) (Poster, Map, Infographic)
- Agricultural Careers Prezi (Multimedia)
- Field to Film Career Snapshots (Multimedia)
- Nepris: Connecting Industry Professionals to Every Classroom! (Website)
Agricultural Literacy Outcomes
Culture, Society, Economy & Geography
- Describe essential agricultural careers related to production, consumption, and regulation (T5.9-12.d)
Science, Technology, Engineering & Math
- Predict the types of careers and skills agricultural scientists will need in the future to support agricultural production and meet the basic needs of a growing population (T4.9-12.f)
Education Content Standards
Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Cluster Skills
CS.05.02Examine and choose career opportunities that are matched to personal skills, talents, and career goals in an AFNR pathway of interest.
Career Ready Practices
CRP.10.1Identify career opportunities within a career cluster that match personal interests, talents, goals and preferences.
CRP.10.4Identify, prepare, update and improve the tools and skills necessary to pursue a chosen career path.
HS-ETS1: Engineering Design
HS-ETS1-1Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.
Common Core Connections
Reading: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.5Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.